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do white noise machines help?

I was skeptical…I’ve seen these things in waiting rooms before and to me, it just sounded like a bunch of static on an old TV. Seriously? What is the point? When I’m already uncomfortable sitting in a room full of people I don’t know, the non-descript crackling definitely does NOT make me feel more relaxed. It might even make me feel more stressed!

Recently, I did have to take a closer look, though…

We started an Airbnb and before we got it up and running, I was researching what touches were helpful for travelers. It was interesting to see what people find helpful while traveling. What surprised me, though, was a white noise machine. The little device kept popping up on all kinds of lists and web advice, so my hubby and I decided maybe we needed to take a closer look and try one out.

The one we ordered has volume control, of course, but it also has timer and memory control functions. And get this…in addition to the static sound that was driving me crazy in the waiting room, this one has some better sound options (IMHO), like rain, a heartbeat, a thunderstorm, birds chirping, and ocean waves. Oh yeah, lots of fun things to experiment with!

During the day, I like the birds, although in the spring and summer, I’ll probably just open the windows to hear the real deal. I do feel like I am more relaxed with the sounds of nature accompanying me throughout the day. At night, we both like the ocean waves or the rain. I do have to admit; the first couple of nights, I did not sleep very soundly. I think my brain was getting used to having noise in the room while trying to rest.

After several weeks of use, I can honestly say, the white noise machine has made a difference in my sleep. I fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply than before. I really do love it! We haven’t ever used the white noise or heartbeat but all the others get used regularly both day and night.

White noise machines come in a variety of shapes, sizes, features, and prices.The one we chose was a mid price range at $31.99 on Amazon. You can find it by clicking on the pic below…

If you decide to get one or already have one, let me know which sound is your fave!

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weight loss buddy: grounded in exercise

In my last post I talked about “the book” and the food plan for my weight loss program, but everyone knows diet and exercise have to work together to achieve maximum results. I HATE the gym, so I had to find something else to get my cardio in. I’m going to start with groundworking my horse. This simply means I will not be riding while we are working together and he will be attached to me with a lead rope. This also means I will often need to cover the same amount of ground as he does and, you guessed it, that’s where the cardio comes in.

The first exercise on the ground will be teaching Doc to stay right next to me, not ahead or behind but his head right by my shoulder. Sounds easy, right? But there’s a catch…we’ll start at a walk, but then start working on the trot, which means, you guessed it…I’ll be jogging and there will probably be some moments when I won’t be sure who is keeping up with whom! We will definitely both be out of breath for the first several days, especially when I go to my friend’s arena which has a deep sand floor…yeah…running on the beach is not nearly as glorious as it looks on Baywatch…just sayin’!

I usually work on one exercise with my horse for 4-6 days until he’s really good at it and then we’ll move on to something else. My horses have always had good ground manners…meaning they respect my space and that I’m smaller than them (which means they have to be careful around me so I don’t get hurt). I can get them to do all sorts of things, but I’ve never worked on getting them to do those things “at liberty” or “off line”. Doc will be my first experiment in that realm and I have a feeling he’s going to be a bit of challenge because he doesn’t always agree that we should be working and/or losing weight! You can be sure I’ll share the frustrations and the entertaining moments along the way LOL!

Have you started an exercise program in the New Year? What keeps you motivated?

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Week 1: 52 Weeks of Gratitude…why start this challenge?

2020…it’s a new year full of expectations, dreams, and unwritten pages in the story of your life. Everyone is making New Years Resolutions and I’m feeling a calm and a joy knowing that I am not. For the first time ever, I am not going to set those ridiculous and unrealistic goals for myself when I know I am destined to fail at every single one.

What I AM going to do is commit to this 52 week Gratitude Challenge and learn to live in the moment…soaking in the blessings instead of striving and stressing to reach what I don’t have. I want to change my focus to what I DO have and CAN do. I want to see the beauty in everything around me. I want to relish the experiences of life even in the tiniest of moments. I want to be happy and I want to laugh…not just once in a while, but every single day.

Care to join me in this challenge? Comment below and let me know!

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First Flight with an AirBNB

I have to confess, before I started my own, I had never even stayed at an Airbnb. Honestly, I wasn’t even really sure what exactly they were. We have family members who have AirBNBs so we started asking questions and I started doing a whole lot of internet research. If we were going to do this, we were going to do it right!

Here’s a little background info…

Our home is a split level. Upstairs we have 2 bedrooms and one bath, a small laundry room, living room and a large eat in kitchen. Downstairs has 2 bedrooms and one bath, a large laundry room, and a small kitchen that is part of the great room. We had already installed a door at the bottom of the stairs to separate our living area from our “MIL suite” downstairs.

When we started this project, the only furniture we had was a well loved leather sofa and chair and an old kitchen table with one armchair and 3 regular chairs. The space was basically a blank slate. Here’s a sampling of the bare bones that we started with…

We knew we wanted to stay booked most of the time and, since there were already quite a few airbnbs in the area, we knew we were going to have to do something a little different to make our place stand out from the competition. So we picked a theme…a true ranch house…you know, the kind with horses and cattle. It was something I already loved (I have my own horse) and our imagination just picked up speed from there…

Stay tuned for more posts about our process of setting up out first AirBNB!

Or visit our AisBNB listing and book your personal stay with us at The Bunk House

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weight loss buddy: first things first

“It takes some willpower to set up, but requires little to no willpower after that.” Susan Peirce Thompson

Gotta read the book! Or in my case, re-read the book. Bright line eating helped me understand how food affects our brain… how this relationship destroys our willpower and eliminates the brain’s ability to recognize when it’s full. That removes the guilt factor which is a HUGE reason a lot of people start a “diet” and give up shortly thereafter. Rather than a “diet”, this method is about retraining our brain and body to function the way they were intended to…love this!

The second reason I love this book is that it maps it all out for me. I am very much a rule follower/list follower. If it’s in black and white (step a, step b, step, c) I can do it. If the procedure is vague and I have to figure it all out for myself…ain’t gonna happen! I don’t have the time or patience for that nonsense!

I know it’s going to sound crazy to have to weigh out your food for every meal, but it’s really quick and easy to do and made it simple for me to know exactly how much I needed to eat. And I promise you won’t starve! There were actually a lot of evening meals that I had to force myself to finish the portions…whaaat????!

And thirdly, I love this book because my body felt good and I felt good about myself while I was following the instructions in it. Life happened and my Bright Line Eating train derailed, but it’s time to get back on the track!

So this is the method I’ll be using starting January 1 (Let’s get real…I’ve got a lot of Christmas leftovers to finish first LOL) Over the next few days, I’m going to reread the book, clear out my pantry (of the “bad” stuff) and fill my fridge and pantry (with the “good” stuff). As we all know, “out of sight, out of mind” is at least a good start!

A link to the book on Amazon is below and I added a link to the cookbook, also in case you’d like to check that out. (The cookbook is totally optional and I was successful without it)

Let me know if you get the book and/or start on this adventure with me…I’d love to have you join in the fun!

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I have a routine…

Well, I USED to have a routine.

I’m a type A personality. I like to have a plan, know what the plan is, and check off the steps in the plan as I complete them. Focus has never been an issue for me…I’m usually the one who works harder and longer than is necessary (and/or healthy) and gets more done in a day than should be humanly possible. And I LOVE finishing my to do list every single day.

That’s how I USED to function…until recently. Currently, I make a to do list and schedule my day but I rarely complete any of the tasks on the list. I struggle with staying on task and get sidetracked constantly. I’m frustrated that I can’t seem to complete anywhere near the amount of projects I used to do in a single day without even thinking twice about it. My brain goes round and round trying to figure out why this is and what has changed to affect me in such a dramatic way?

I think it may be long term stress which is now coupled with a new challenge in this stage of life…anxiety. I had no idea that anxiety could start so late in life and be so disrupting. To be honest, like a lot of things in life, I used to think certain things were blown out of proportion and the person dealing with it just needed to “get a grip” I’ve gotten softer and more compassionate the older I get and the more things I experience for myself. Life is humbling and empathy is gained through experience. I truly see everyone through the eyes that say “I see this tiny glimpse of what that person is going through, but I have no idea what the entire tapestry of their life entails and I can’t see inside their mind and heart to observe the hurt and trials that have led them to this moment in time.”

What if we were all a little kinder and looked at others through the eyes of compassion and the assumption that there are hard things going on in everyone’s life? …things we hide because they’re painful or embarrassing or shameful. What if we assumed everyone was just doing the best they can at that moment and behind those irritated or angry eyes is a heart that is about to break?

I know there have been periods in my life where I was just trying to hold together and get through that one day…it wouldn’t take much on those days to tip my scales over the breaking point. I can only imagine that this is a common human experience…we all have days or seasons in which we’re not sure we’re going to make it through. A harsh or critical word can be devastating on those days. Sometimes we hold it all together and move on into a new season with relatively little obvious collateral damage. Sometimes the scales tip and we can’t hold it all in and the stress spills over a little or a lot.

What if we daily remind ourselves that everyone is just doing the best they can with the cards they’ve been dealt and some days that’s simply much easier than others? I know I would be grateful for a small measure of grace on those days when I feel like I’m drowning….

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weight loss buddy

OK, I admit it…things aren’t quite the same as they used to be. I’m 50, my metabolism is slowing down and I can no longer eat whatever I want without suffering the consequences…UGH!

2020 is going to be a year of focus for me and the word I’ve chosen for the year is “steady” (you’ll see more about that in an upcoming post for New Years Day) One of the things I plan to be steady about is taking care of myself and currently, that’s going to have to include losing about 15 pounds. I’ve done it successfully before with a book that was recommended to me by a dear friend. I read it in 2 days and then lost 6 pounds in the first 8 days of following the regimen in the book (don’t worry, I’ll share about that in my next weight loss post)

Eating right is going to be half the battle, but the other half is going to be exercise…steady, consistent exercise. I am NOT a “go to the gym” girl…I’ve always hated how self conscious I am when I’m there. I seriously can’t wait to get out of there as fast as possible which means I often leave well before I’ve burned enough calories to make a difference. Serious waste of my monthly dues!

So I started thinking about A) what kind of exercise would be enjoyable enough to keep me motivated and B) who could be my accountability partner and weight loss buddy. I know this is going to sound weird, but Doc was the first one to pop into my brain and I literally laughed out loud!

Doesn’t he look excited???!!!

But wait! Upon further review, this could actually work for both of us! We both need to lose some weight, gain some muscle tone, and eat right. And if you don’t know much about horses, working with a horse at liberty and in the saddle can both be really good cardio exercise for both horse and human…especially if you need to lose a few pounds!

So yes, Doc is officially my weight loss buddy and yes, you’ll be hearing more about our pitfalls and our progress in the coming months!

Do you have a crazy idea you’re going to test out in 2020? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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What is a stress reliever?

“I’m so stressed out!”

How many times have you heard this phrase in the last week? It’s perhaps one of the most used phrases in my world today, and probably yours, as well. Everyone is “too busy”, “has too much on their plate”, or is “just completely overwhelmed” It’s obvious that our schedules are way too jam packed, but what can we DO about it?

This year, I have literally been slammed with so many things that were out of my control. I looked at my schedule every week and desperately tried to find something to cut, and could not find a single thing except maybe my weekly Bible Study, however, for the health and well being of myself and everyone around me, THAT is NOT optional!

When you can’t cut activities in your schedule, how do you survive without losing your mind? I’ve found a small way to help me survive and that is…putting myself on my schedule a minimum of once a week. What does that mean exactly? It means blocking out 30 to 60 minutes for myself to either just completely stop activity altogether (as in take a nap, meditate, or enjoy a cup of tea) or do something that allows my mind and body to focus on only the current moment. For me, the stopping activity altogether rarely happens (eye roll) because my assistance is constantly needed by someone especially if I happen to be at home. I do not resent this and in fact, love being able to help others, but I really need to take care of myself as well.

For me, scheduling an activity where I can “lose myself” has worked better because I leave the house and kind of disappear for a while. I’m currently only doing this once a week, but it is my goal to work up to 3 times a week. My “escape time” happens to be going to the barn and spending time riding my horse. This not only gives me something completely different to focus on, it also gets me outdoors for some fresh air, and because I’m training my horse and not simply trail riding at a walk, I’m actually getting some exercise at the same time. For me, it’s a win/win/win in the self care category!

***A word of caution: If you decide to try the “escape” method, you might be like me…you will have a tendency to “reschedule” your time when something else comes up. In order for this to work, YOU MUST STAND FIRM and KEEP that appointment with yourself!!!

What about you? How do you survive an overstuffed weekly agenda? What works for you might actually help someone else and THAT is a beautiful thing!

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What makes holidays difficult? Its not what most people think…

No one wants to talk about it…why holidays don’t ever work out like the ones in the movies. Or if they do bring it up, the topic gets brushed off with an explanation involving a break up or the loss of a loved one. But I’ve had neither this year and still I am struggling. I want to go back to the childhood wonder and excitement that Christmas used to bring. The joy of decorating the tree, making cookies, driving around town to see Christmas lights, wrapping gifts, setting the table for a festive meal, anticipating the arrival of family members…what happened to all of that?

I think stress is holding me hostage. I want to be excited about Christmas day, but I’m hosting which means I have too much to do ahead of time to enjoy the days leading up to Christmas and on Christmas Day, a lot of stressful things are going to happen for me… cleaning my entire house at the last minute so it doesn’t get dirty again before people arrive; not everyone is going to get along, there will be disagreements/ arguments; people will be late; I have no idea what time we are actually going to sit down to eat; opening gifts while everyone watches; preparing all the food; washing all the dishes; clean up afterwards; the volume of multiple conversations all going on at the same time in the same room… definitely not a peaceful day.

As an introvert and an empath, the holidays can be a nightmare. I want to spend time with my loved ones, but it’s overwhelming to have that many people around me all at the same time. I feel the anxiety, joy, stress, angst, and awkwardness of every person in the room…all at the same time and it’s exhausting. The closer it gets, the more I just want to run away to some remote cabin in the woods and curl up with a can of soup and a good book.

I hate feeling this way because I love the people who are coming to spend the day with us and I actually love to cook. So I’m working on a holiday survival strategy and here’s what I have so far:

Take breaks from the chaos by retreating to my bedroom to read or meditate as needed.

Use (gasp) paper plates and plastic cutlery.

Enlist everyone’s help to clean up (at least the wrapping paper & used paper goods) before they leave.

Take the dogs for a walk around the neighborhood. (hey, we’re talking survival here)

That’s it…that’s what I’ve got. What strategies do you use when the holiday is too much for you to handle?